TechStars Startup Week coming in virtual formatting

Mara Hardy

An event promoting entrepreneurial endeavors in Western Colorado will switch to a virtual format in offering a series of free presentations in July.

Programs and events will be offered online every Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon starting
July 7 and running throughout the month as part of Techstars Startup Week West Slope.

“We know that us western innovators and pioneers are gritty and determined to forge ahead in the face of adversity. We feel it’s good timing to rise up to this challenge,” said Mara Hardy, business development manager for the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.

Organizers initially considered postponing Startup Week until the fall because of the coronavirus pandemic and related restrictions. But they decided online presentations could deliver educational programming while also highlighting and celebrating the efforts of entrepreneurs and their companies.

“We believe in the entrepreneurial spirit and know that a crisis such as this can reveal new opportunities, creative partnerships and alternative ways to launch and run businesses outside of the Front Range,” said Taylor Grande, an organizer with Startup Colorado.

“Although we may be apart physically, West Slope Startup Week wants to bring our entire region together, virtually, to capitalize on these opportunities to innovate and pivot,” Grande said.

Brian Watson with Proximity Space said the goals of Techstars Startup Week West Slope remain the same — to share knowledge and expertise as well as build connections across the region.

“We know so much of the magic of Startup Week comes from the in-person interactions, and we are cooking up some fun ideas to create a meaningful, engaging experience,” Watson said.

Organizers will select sessions from a list of more than 100 ideas submitted by Coloradans earlier this year to fill eight tracks. Organizers have asked for additional ideas for sessions that address the pandemic. Ideas must be submitted by June 5 using an online form.

“COVID-19 has impacted every industry and business, and West Slope Startup Week will play a critical role in establishing the community and resources for us all to move forward,” said Jamie Finey, a partner at the Greater Colorado Venture Fund. “In addition to sessions around small business recovery and survival, this will be a great opportunity to connect over new business possibilities.”

Tom Benton, director of the Colorado Mesa University Innovation Center, said sponsors remain committed to supporting the event in a virtual format. U.S. Bank is title sponsor. Other sponsors include Colorado Lending Source, Greenline Ventures, Kaart and ASAP Accounting & Payroll.

“It’s no surprise,” Benton said. “It’s further proof of the strength and generosity of Western Colorado. These companies care about their communities. They see the value in bringing us together right now.”

For more information about Techstars Startup Week West Slope, visit the website located at